African elephant

A herd of elephants (10 - 20 animals) mainly consists of related females. A somewhat older cow - as the females are known - leads the herd. The other members of the group are her sisters and daughters with their calves. The leader sets the herd's pace, decides where the elephants are going and what they are doing. If the leader dies, the eldest female will take over her job from that moment on. The males - bulls - leave the group before they become adults. They form male herds or lead a solitary nomadic existence.

African Elephants in Beekse Bergen Safari Park

At Beekse Bergen Safari Park the bull also has its own accommodation. The males have increased sexual activity in certain periods: called 'the musth'. Then they seek out fertile females. If the females in the park are fertile, then they go to 'visit' the bull for a few days.

Contributing to the Breeding Programme

There was a severe drop in the number of elephants over the previous century due to the ivory trade. Even now, elephants are still killed by poachers in the wild. Most elephants therefore live in protected reserves. But they only have space for a restricted number. The elephants at the Beekse Bergen Safari Park come from a reserve in Zimbabwe and contribute to the European breeding programme. The bull, called Calimero, arrived in the park in the spring of 2004 and is the largest elephant in Europe.


Elephants can hear very well. But they also make different noises. This means they can greet or warn each other. When they are excited or sense danger they trumpet with their trunks. A large herd is sometimes split into two groups. The groups stay in touch with each other over vast distances. They can hear their "rumble" at a very low frequency that can't be heard by us, from kilometres away.

African elephant

Loxodonta africana

  • Habitat: Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Food: grass, tree bark, branches, fruit and leaves
  • Age: lives to 65 years old
  • Weight: 3,500 kg (females) to 6,500 kg (males)
  • Offspring: 1 calf
  • Gestation Period: 22 months
  • Where can I see them?: On the walking safari

Nice to know:

Grandma's the boss! With elephants, one of the eldest females is always in charge of the herd. With her age and experience, she knows better than any other, where the best eating and drinking spots are. Of course, she has the memory of an elephant...